Review by Cortezattic
Hyde Park: think soft, funky, wine-like Virginia with a floral note.
I pried off the lid of the 4” diameter tin, and found a compressed clump of reddish brown, bent and fragmented flake in the plastic bag that lines the tin. It released the sweet and pungent odor of fermentation with hints of something floral. The bouquet was quite appealing. Dealing with this somewhat moist and musty clump was a bit challenging. Obviously, this is a broken flake presentation; but I found flakes that were reasonably intact, although somewhat smashed, that accounted for about 30% of the mass. They were large enough to fold and stuff or cube cut; but I thought it hardly worth the effort to tease them from the moist, compressed clump. I decided to just break off manageable chunks of tobacco and rub them out – and they blossomed into springy balls of tangled shag. Before rubbing, the tobacco seemed overly moist; but I loaded a bowlful of the shaggy ribbon without any drying time, and it smoked very well. If I had it to do over again, and I believe I will have that opportunity, I would try separating those intact flakes, and cube cut them to experience this blend at a slower burn rate.
Upon lighting, the floral notes hinted at in the tin enveloped my nose and palate, and my first impression was “ultra-ultra-light Lakeland”. My guess would be a violet perfume. I do not care for Lakeland scents, but this was different. It was not the least bit cloying, and merely served to create a flavor nuance and some intrigue. On the true light, the taste of Virginia came to the foreground with support from a Burley-like, almost woody backbone. The general impression was of a funky, musty, stewed fruit flavor – I’d like to say apricot with a soupçon of green olive – and a trace of Virginia’s peppery tingle, or piquancy (though I don’t want to suggest sharp or "hot" tasting.) I could not taste any of the rum and maple sugar mentioned in the tin description, but on balance, I found the blend to be at once wine-like, grassy, sweet, pungent, and graced by that delicate floral note I mentioned earlier. SmokingPipes.com suggests there may be a trace of Latakia in the blend – perhaps the element that creates its funkiness. As a Latakia-phobe, that would not be my first guess at all. I would sooner suspect the dark fired Virginias in the blend.
Aside from that delicate floral note, the blend has a very natural tobacco taste, with some evidence that fermentation was part of the process. Its strength is on the high side of medium, but it is a very smooth smoke. The burn is very steady and forgiving; it smokes dryly, cool, and bite-free; and results in an incredibly small quantity of ash.
If you enjoy Jersey style blends – especially Peacehaven, or maybe even Scarborough, then I think you will like Hyde Park as well.